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Nigerian Election Delay Brings Disappointment, Criticism

  • Paul Sisco

There is mixed reaction to the six-week postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The vote was delayed by the nation’s Independent National Electoral Commission, primarily because of security concerns in northeastern Nigeria.

INEC Chairman Atthiru Jega announced the change a week ago, saying the elections would be held March 28. President Goodluck Jonathan appeared on television to express his disappointment about the postponement but noted that the war against Boko Haram in the northeast was intensifying.

Adebowale Adefuye, Nigeria's ambassador to the United States, said Wednesday on VOA's "Straight Talk Africa" that he was confident the election would be aboveboard and honest.

“I can assure you by the grace of God it shall happen," he said. "It will be free, fair, credible and peaceful, and the outcome of the election will reflect the will of the people of Nigeria.”

Also appearing on "Straight Talk Africa" was Nigerian Sylvester Okere, national chairman in the U.S. for the campaign of leading opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari. He also expressed his disappointment about the postponement.

”Using security as an excuse is an undermining of democracy, and we have to face reality," he said. "Throughout this time, both candidates have been campaigning in the far north. The rallies have been very successful, so the same effort, the same military police that they put in place, if they use it for just one day for the election, everything will be OK.”

Buhari acknowledged the difficult security challenges but said elections must take place.

“I wish to state strongly that our party will not tolerate any further interference with the electoral process," he said. "The rescheduled election ... must be sacrosanct.”

The general manager and political correspondent for Channels Television in Lagos, Kayode Akintemi, also said the new date for the election must be adhered to.

“There is potential for a serious challenge ahead," he said, "but let me not be the apostle of doom, just saying there is a potential. We are hoping [that] come March 28th, we will be able to have our election.”

At this point in the campaign, political observers say the race for the presidency between the incumbent Jonathan and Buhari is too close to call.